1. Michael Denning, Noise Uprising: The Audiopolitics of a World Musical Revolution. How recording began to revolutionize “world music” in the 1920s, a bit scattershot but still an interesting conceptual book about the history of music.
2. Mary Beard, SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome. I have only browsed this one, but it does appear to be one of the best and most readable overall histories of Rome. I’m keeping it in the basement and someday I’ll go back to it.
3. Peter Turchin, Ultra Society: how 10,000 years of war made humans the greatest cooperators on earth: “The central idea of this book is that it was competition between groups, usually taking the form of warfare, that transformed humanity from small-scale foraging bands and farming villages into huge societies with elaborate governance institutions and complex and highly productive economic life.” Basically true, in my view,and this book argues for that position persuasively.
4. Karthik Ramanna, Political Standards: Corporate Interest, Ideology, and Leadership in the Shaping of Accounting Rules for the Market Economy. Here is one opening summary bit: “With the financialization of the U.S. economy, particularly since the 1990s, we see a growing impact of investment banks and asset-management firms in accounting rule-making. These groups are more likely to propose rules that accelerate financial-statement recognition of anticipated economic gains — that is, fair-value accounting rules. Under certain circumstances, this can result in higher compensation to executives in these firms.” Most generally, the amount of lobbying over accounting rules seems to be increasing. Here is an NYT Op-Ed by Ramanna. Underdiscussed topics, I have only pawed through this one but it appears to be wel-informed.